Mostly sunny. Cool.
Dear Mangaung Delegates,All eyes in South Africa are on you as you
wend your way to the ANC conference in Bloemfontein. Please heed the offer made
by 33 of the country's top business leaders in an advertisement in a Sunday
newspaper. I know many of them - they are people of integrity who have been
successful on account of their talent at picking the right strategy and then, most importantly, turning that strategy into
action.Not one of them is trying to manipulate
policy in any particular direction nor achieve any mischievous outcomes. All they want to do is assist you in
converting your policy, as set out in the National Development Plan, into
reality and turn South Africa into a winning nation. They have issued a call
for action, of which they want to be a part, in order to overcome the one
weakness this country has had for a long time: a penchant for producing fine
plans but never implementing them properly.We now have a common vision to create an
economy three times the present size by 2030, while bringing down unemployment
to 6% and making significant inroads on reducing poverty and inequality. Trevor
Manual and his team of commissioners are to be congratulated on putting plenty
of flesh onto this vision with their carefully constructed report. However, the
government cannot make the vision happen by itself. It needs contributions from
business, labour and civil society generally.The business leaders undertook to promote
"a zero tolerance approach towards bribery, fraud and corruption and
anti-competitive business practices". Moreover they committed themselves
to "engaging with government and other public sector parties to foster
ethical business behaviours necessary to create a modern, efficient and
competitive economy that supports the growth of small, medium and micro
enterprises which are crucial to job creation."Why don't you hold them to these words and,
either through an established channel like Nedlac or through a new channel
altogether, construct a series of measurable outcomes to which you can hold
them - as well as the other parties involved - accountable? After all, the
President has stated via his spokesperson that he will continuously engage
business in the new year, and here is a golden opportunity to provide real
substance to those engagements.I would like, finally, to remind you what constitutes
a "winning nation" since it was the Anglo scenario team that first
came up with the definition in 1987. There are six elements:- High
Education. Standing on the brink of the
knowledge-intensive 1990s, I used to emphasise that the foremost characteristic
of a winning nation was the quality of its education system. Nothing has
changed since then. If anything, the IT revolution has made the world even more
Ethic. As I said at the time, it is not adequate to
be knowledgeable: you have to work hard too, but there are four conditions for
people to be willing to work hard. The first is small government. A marvellous Chinese
proverb says: "Govern a great nation like you cook a small fish: don't
overdo it". The second, third and fourth conditions are a sound family
system, low taxation and absence of corruption;- Mobilisation
of Capital. Having people who are knowledgeable and
work hard is not enough: one has to give them resources as well. This requires
not only inducing a national savings habit but also putting in place a system
that effectively delivers the savings to where they are most needed. In particular,
the small business and informal sector should get their fair share;- Dual-Logic
Economy. As our team prophesised at the time, the
new technologies would design both blue-collar and white-collar workers out of
the system. They have since done so in virtually every developed and emerging
economy in the world. Hence, there is a need to create a symbiotic relationship
between the formal economy of big business and the informal economy of small
business - especially via supply chain management schemes whereby small
business manufactures components and big business assembles the final product. The
logic of the two economies has to be integrated;- Social
Harmony. You cannot have one half of a nation at
odds with the other half. As we said at the time, you cannot have millions of
angry black citizens but neither can you afford to have angry coloured, Asian
or white citizens. You have to find something which satisfies South Africans as
a whole; and- Global
Player. Lastly, as we observed, "it is those
nations that look outwards that win". Nations that look inwards die.
"You have to play by the global rules of the game even if you are a
superpower. And so for South Africa to bow out of the global race is the
craziest notion of all." It still is. There you have it. We can only become a
winning nation by co-operating with one another. Please bear this in mind when
you debate economic policy at the conference.Yours sincerely,A Patriot Fox
Send your comments to Clem
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